Category: Self-Discovery

Internship Stories: Teaching Students to be Good Citizens

April 6th, 2018 in Self-Discovery

Picture2By Danielle Innocent, Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Program

During the summer of 2017, I had the pleasure of interning with Discovering Justice, an educational justice nonprofit based out of the Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston, MA. As with most nonprofits, the internship was unpaid; however, because of the Yawkey Program, I was able to have enough of an income to finance a summer in the city and allow me the opportunity to intern with an incredible organization.

Discovering Justice’s mission is to introduce elementary and middle school students in the Greater Boston area to the U.S. judicial system, inspiring active civic participation and allowing students the opportunity to interact with the law directly. Even though the organization is very small, they are involved in a lot of different sectors of education, including developing in-class curriculum, facilitating fieldtrips in the courthouse, and running after-school programs. As an intern, I gained a lot of valuable first-hand experience.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned while interning with Discovering Justice was the importance of leveraging professional relationships. Prior to this internship, I was definitely one of those people that immediately got the nervous sweats anytime the word “networking” was announced. However, as a part of the Discovering Justice team, I was continually surrounded by inspiring and influential people, and I knew that I had to get over my fear and make the most of the potential connections.  The nature of the organization meant that lawyers, federal judges, and local teachers were all part of our daily communications, allowing for lots of opportunities to practice. Because of this daily practice, I was able to alleviate some of my concerns around networking, and am definitely more equipped now to form those sorts of connections that can become helpful in my future professional career.

My direct supervisor was the person I became closest with on the team, and she was the one I looked to for tips on how to cultivate a solid professional network. She had an incredible ability to keep in touch with a huge number of people and knew how to use their skills or their connections to help Discovering Justice. She impressed upon me the value of creating and maintaining relationships with people in all different sectors. Even more importantly, though, she made it clear that it was also important to be able and willing to give back to the various connections made, investing in the relationships as a partnership rather than just expecting them to invest in you and your mission when needed.

Overall, my time with Discovering Justice definitely helped shape me as a professional and a person. I learned new skills, met a wide variety of people, and developed a better ability to survive and thrive in a professional environment. I gained new abilities that have, and will continue to, carry on into other internship experiences and my future career.

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Internship Stories: Unlocking Autism’s Secrets

March 30th, 2018 in Self-Discovery

Picture1By Sydney Lovelace, Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Program

During the summer of 2017, I interned at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Lurie Center for Autism research unit, working specifically on a chronic intermittent alcohol exposure study in mice. This project seeks to explore how peripheral inflammation influences CNS microglia. I tested the hypothesis that monocytes and macrophages in mice deficient in MyD88 signaling will have a diminished pro-inflammatory response after CIE compared to mice with intact endogenous MyD88 signaling.

The most rewarding part of my experience would be seeing the amount of progress I made in my lab techniques from the beginning to the end of the internship. When I first started, I was not proficient in any of the basic lab skills. At the finish of the internship I was able to work confidently and independently on all of the techniques I hoped to learn and more.

I learned that research takes a lot of time and patience. I also learned that although researchers within a lab often work on different projects, the fellow lab members’ opinions and suggestions are valued immensely. My impressions of the field changed as a result of the internship. I imagined research to be dry, such as computer work and data analysis. What I found was that researchers spend most of their time performing experiments. I also imagined researchers to work in a very secluded manner. What I found through this internship was that the lab members were all friends and relied on each other for help on various matters throughout the day.

This internship allowed for me to advance my lab techniques and solidified my desire to incorporate research into my future.

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Student Stories: Empowering Future STEM Leaders

March 23rd, 2018 in Self-Discovery

grahamBy Claire Graham, Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Program

Last summer I interned at The LEAH Project, a nonprofit located in the South End that focuses on empowering low income high school students of color to pursue STEM as a career. These students participate in a mentorship program in which they teach STEM to elementary students in an after school program and in return we assist them with their college applications, provide career development workshops, and foster leadership development.

The LEAH Project is a small operation, with only three full time employees, so as an intern I was tossed into projects almost immediately because they needed the extra help. I was involved in a handful of projects throughout the summer, all of which went towards my three goals: 1) Practice networking, 2) Continue to develop facilitation skills, and 3) Learn how to write grants.

Everyone in the office was incredibly kind and welcoming and because it was an open, collaborative workspace I was able to interact with individuals who worked for a variety of different organizations, not just LEAH. It took a little getting used to being in a formal office space where I primarily sat in a desk in front of a computer all day. There were definitely days where it was incredibly challenging to be stuck in a chair all day.

My favorite part of the internship was being able to work so closely with the high school students who participated in LEAH. I facilitated their weekly meetings, did site visits to observe them teaching, and took them on field trips to labs at MIT. They were a spunky bunch and each of them had such vibrant personalities.

I learned so much from them during those two and a half months interning at LEAH. I feel like I have a deeper understanding of Boston as a city and the disadvantages that the kids in LEAH faced every day. I am incredibly grateful that I had this experience both with The LEAH Project and with the Yawkey Program.

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Protect Yourself from Stress in Graduate School

March 5th, 2018 in Self-Discovery

Martha Brill 1By Martha Brill, Assistant Director of Counseling & Programs

Pursuing an advanced degree in an intensive program of study can be a very enriching and intense experience, but it can also be a lot of pressure. To stay on course in your program, you’ll need to know how to cope with stress.

Every student is different, so it’s important to know what causes you to feel stressed and to have some ideas of how to cope. As we know, stress shows up in a myriad of ways; physically, emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally. Some of the symptoms of being stressed might be feeling overwhelmed, not sleeping, changes in your eating habits, not being able to concentrate, being irritable, feeling burned out, or getting sick more frequently than usual.

Here are a few tips to help you combat stress.

Develop a time management plan. If you have too many top priorities, you can’t make smart choices. Let go of the less necessary tasks; you can always go back at a later time to attend to them. Stick to the priorities that you decide are the most important.

Set boundaries. There will always be more you could do, so learn how to say “no” when you feel it is appropriate. This will help you stay more in control of your situation and you’ll be able to remain on top of those projects you do commit yourself to.

Develop and stick to a daily exercise routine. Develop a method of getting exercise daily, such as practicing yoga, going to the gym, running, getting out in nature, or swimming.

Keep a positive attitude. Sometimes when you are deeply involved in a program, you will lose sight of how well you are actually doing and what strengths you bring to achieving your academic goals. Give yourself credit for what you have already accomplished. So, keep a positive outlook and occasionally take a break to clear your head, keep a gratitude journal, meditate, or maybe listen to some music.

Set realistic expectations for yourself. No one can do it all, and there will always be more you could take on. So remember to set reasonable expectations for yourself and be realistic about how long it might take to complete your tasks satisfactorily.

Remind yourself of your longer-range goals. When you are lost in the more immediate steps that you need to take, try to step back and remind yourself of your longer-range goal and how this “piece of the puzzle” will fit into reaching your ultimate target.

Use your support system. Remember, you are not in this alone! Check in with your classmates and professors when you are unsure of assignments or feel stuck. Set aside some time to connect with friends and family to keep your perspective when things do become overwhelming.

Ask for help. BU has many resources that will help you to achieve your goals. Here are some that you may want to take advantage of:

Center for Career Development

Educational Resource Center

Behavioral Medicine

Fitness and Recreation Center

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Tips for Career Changers

February 12th, 2018 in Self-Discovery

Lucy van Beever 1By Lucy van Beever, Associate Director of Employer Relations

At age nine, I assisted in my dog’s surgery and had my first “aha” moment. I loved animals, was great at biology and chemistry, and therefore decided to become a veterinarian.

My career plan lasted until I realized that being a vet meant 8+ years of college. This was the first time I switched my career plans, but not the last. I never intended to be so fickle, but have found myself over time career morphing from one field to another for a variety of reasons.

As a senior in high school, I lobbied the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill to allow me to complete a year-long rotational internship, which brought me to my first career in hotel management. After 10 years in the hotel business, I was recruited to run a high-end day spa, resulting in career number two. Four years later, I went into business for myself as a small-business consultant for retailers – career number three. And here I am, five years into career number four in higher education. My resume is a smorgasbord of seemingly unrelated experiences, but along the way, I’ve picked up these tips:Have a Common Thread: This will help you weave together your story or elevator pitch. Mine is helping people and customer-facing roles. I thrive in these and make sure that my resume, interviewing and LinkedIn profile reflect this.

  • Focus on Transferrable Skills: This can mean redesigning your resume to feature these prominently. Recruiters don’t always know how to equate your past with their current needs, so do the work for them.
  • Make an Action Plan: As you swing through the jungle of life, have another vine to grab hold of before you let go of the one you’re holding! Take time to research the switch. Have informational interviews with people in your new field, so you understand what a day of the life of the new career looks like. Make sure you use resources like your college career center and alumni office to make connections. Start planning early; don’t wait until your current skills are obsolete or you get burned out in your current career.
  • Prepare for Sacrifice: You may need to make financial or other sacrifices in the short term to achieve long-term career readiness in a new field. Gaining new skills can be exhausting, but it’s excellent for your brain and body. Plan to give up some evenings out with friends or family time so you can take an online course at night or volunteer on weekends. It will be worth it in the end.
  • Be Flexible: You may not get to your new career right away, or you may have an unexpected opportunity knock in an industry you hadn’t thought of. The important thing to remember is that it’s ok to have a zigzag path. Be open to new prospects and don’t think of your next career as your forever career. You will learn, you will grow, and you may change careers again.

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Choosing a Major: A Big Decision

September 26th, 2016 in Discovery, Self-Discovery

WaelschBy Peter Waelsch, Assistant Director of Counseling & Programs

Life is full of decisions, some important and some less so. “What should I eat tonight?” “What TV show should I watch?” “What should I major in?”

We all have experience making both trivial and impactful decisions. We may be influenced by outside factors, including family, friends, and culture. But, in the end, all great decisions come from looking inside ourselves, at our interests, values, skills, and even our personality style.

When choosing a major, here are a few starting points for considering your decision:

  • What do you want to get out of your college experience? Everyone sees higher education differently. For some, it’s training for a particular career. For others, college is a time to explore and expand your horizons.
  • What academic concentrations best reflect your interests, skills, values, and learning style? College is challenging in the best of circumstances. Going to classes that have little interest to you will make you unmotivated and might impact your academic performance. Choosing a major that interests you will let you dive into a subject, think critically, and even understand the world better.
  • What are your career goals? In just a few short years, you’ll be graduating and heading out into the world. It’s legitimate to wonder what you can do with, for example, a history degree. You might fear that liberal arts degrees won’t serve you well outside of college, but the reality is that majors don’t equal careers.

In high school, you combined your academic work with extracurriculars, internships, etc. You surrounded your academics with a “mosaic” of other activities. At BU, you should do the same thing. Student activities, volunteer, leadership, research, study abroad, and internships are just a few of the opportunities that will make you a well-rounded job seeker.

Remember, on your resume, your academic information takes up a few lines; the bulk of your resume reflects other experiences that show employers your career direction and hands-on skill development.

And of course, remember the CCD is here to help you through the process of making a decision about your major. Please utilize our resources on majors or schedule an appointment today!

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When a Major Doesn’t Equal a Career

April 12th, 2016 in Discovery, Self-Discovery

EMonfortBy Erika Monfort, Graduate Intern

During my time as an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University, I switched my major three times. I started off with biology then landed in history and I finally ended in communications. Every time, I learned something new, but it wasn’t until junior year when I truly found what I wanted to do.

I can be very animated at times and cause a couple of chuckles, which made me think I would be a good fit for a career in the marketing or entertainment industry. But I know now that my passion is with student affairs and the services offered to students.

I find joy in aiding students through the difficult transitions of college life, because I lived them. Currently, I am a master’s candidate in the educational leadership and policy studies program at Boston University. My bachelor’s degree in communications is not directly related to my chosen career path, but it is one of my many foundations of knowledge.

My quest through majors was an eventful journey, and it took graduating with a communications degree and switching my career path to find my fit. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.


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One Piece of Advice

March 10th, 2016 in Discovery, Self-Discovery, Tips

EdwardsBy Doug Edwards, Career Counselor

Over the summer, I was at a luncheon with incoming orientation student advisors. The purpose was for everyone to meet and chat with as many BU staff members as possible, so students rotated every few minutes in a ‘speed networking’ style. It was a lot of fun, with lively conversations. Then one young woman asked me a great question point blank:

“What is your one piece of career advice?”


What I told her is the same thing I’ll tell you. Hone a craft. Worry less about following your passion or doing what you love. Because if you’re like most people, you have several interests, none of them white hot (and therefore not really passions). Moreover, they’re likely to evolve over time (research shows that our interests don’t stabilize until age 25), and many of them are best pursued in the context of leisure time or personal relationships.

The worry, of course, is that if honing a craft takes hard work over many years (which it does), and if your interests are an uncertain and unreliable indicator of the craft that’s right for you (which they are), then how on earth do you choose a craft?

The answer is…nobody really knows. Welcome to adulthood!

But lots of professionals have studied the question, developed theories and approaches, and offered thoughtful, yet tentative answers.

The one I find most persuasive is that if you spend less time worrying about finding the one right career for you, and more time getting good at something that people are willing to pay you to do, then you are most likely to (a) cultivate a passion for it, and (b) reap the chief benefits of a good career: challenge and autonomy.

In short, my one piece of career advice is to read So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, by Cal Newport.

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It’s All about Fit OR How To Win with Liberal Arts

February 4th, 2016 in Discovery, Self-Discovery, Tips

Lucy_WebsiteBy Lucy Van Beever, Associate Director of Employer Relations

My seven-year-old daughter changes her mind every day about what she wants to be when she grows up. One day she wants to be a baker, the next day a photographer, and sometimes she wants to be a farmer.

Frustrated, she will say that she can’t decide. To which I reply, “you don’t have to choose one thing. You may be lots of things. It’s more important to stay open about what you want to do and focus on what you’re good at doing!”

Few of us know exactly what we want to do when we head to college. Many of my colleagues and friends studied one thing during their undergraduate years only to wind up in a career that has nothing to do with that major.

My father is a great example. He majored in history, flew jets in the Navy, went to law school, and then became a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. What was he really good at? Negotiating, listening, remembering details/conversations, and embracing adventure.

My neighbor majored in art history, minored in psychology, and is now Vice President of Compensation at a well-known investment firm. She is good at multi-tasking, thinking things through carefully, and managing people. She’s also a mother of four kids!

It is liberating to realize that what you choose to study is not the only determinant of your career success. Honing your interests/passions, gaining hands-on experience through internships or research, and developing skills like teamwork are all essential too. A liberal arts education gives you a broad palette of tools to apply in almost any work environment.

That’s great, you say, but is that what employers seek? Yes! Employers consistently say they want to hire people who have a broad knowledge base and can work together to solve problems, debate, communicate, and think critically—all skills that liberal arts programs aggressively, and perhaps uniquely, strive to teach.

And once you are out in the real world, the more general skills of communication, organization, and judgment become highly valued. As a result, liberal arts graduates frequently catch or surpass graduates with career-oriented majors in both job quality and compensation.

My daughter is creative, empathetic, and loves the outdoors. As a future Terrier (fingers crossed), she will have the same opportunity to study broadly and carve her own career path, even if it zig-zags. A liberal arts foundation can best prepare her for whatever she wants to be, or winds up doing. It turns out that the advice I’ve been giving her holds true for you, too.

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